Sup schmeags. So quick Danny life update before we talk about Life, the Universe, and Everything. I’m in a bit of an ironic situation, in that I believe I’m a certifiable workaholic without every having worked an official full-time job. Neat, huh?
Anyway, you might be wondering what I do with all the time I don’t spend writing XFA posts. Well, I’m finding myself spending an increasing amount of time trying to convince my perpetually fraying emotions that it’s a good idea for me to just keep coding. I hit a bit of a rough patch last night involving Orchid, comments, and really sketchy DOM manipulation, and I decided to put my foot down. So yeah, I’m taking a full day off, which is something I’m not actually sure if I’ve done since I got my wisdom teeth out back in January.
And that means it’s a great time for me to write some blog posts! I’ll probably go find Roger and give him a toot as well, but there’s time for that later. To be clear, “Roger” is the name of my bassoon, which should clear up any juicy misconceptions that last statement may have imparted to you.
Alright friends, let’s talk about explosive continuity. I probably should have named the post “Explosive Homogeneity,” but it seems the term “Homogeneity” has accrued some negative connotations in the last several years with which I have no desire to be associated.
Also, I’ll be using my Fizzy Definitions, so if you see capitalized words that otherwise have no business being capitalized, you can scoot yourself on over to my last post in which I outlined my definitions of some of my most frequently used words.
Ok, before we get into what I mean by “explosive continuity,” let’s talk about why this is important. The notions surrounding explosive continuity provide (in my estimation) a compelling explanation for effectively any large-scale system that has some degree of homogeneity. Humanity, biological life, the universe, dimensions, subatomic particles are all examples of such systems.
Hmm, that didn’t come across as sexily as I wanted, but hey, no one’s ever said that sex sells, right?
Ok, so now that I’ve (somewhat shakily) described why explosive continuity is important, let’s talk about what it is, and why it comes about.
As I’ve stated about a bajillion times by this point, a Stable Entity basically has two jobs if it wants to survive. It has to maintain its internal stability, and it has to contend with threats in its environment. So as a human being, if you want to survive for a good long time, not only do you have to make sure your internal organs don’t randomly shut down (leading to an almost certain death), but if you run into a tiger, you best be sure to either fight it, or run away. Likewise, if you’re a Carbon atom, if you want to survive for a long time, you have to be sure that your protons and electrons don’t arbitrarily decay (they typically don’t), and you also have to be sure that you aren’t blasted to smithereens by a rogue Alpha Particle.
Now then, basically all the arguments I present about stability recursively apply to an Entity’s substructure, so we’re just going to ignore internal stability for the present moment. Let’s talk about dealing with threats.
Every Entity typically poses some degree of threat to every other Entity with which it interacts. So, a bowling ball (a certified Entity) poses a threat to you (another certified Entity) because the bowling ball is able to interact with you and your constituent parts. You might argue that the bowling ball doesn’t pose much of a threat to you, but what if you accidently drop it on your foot? What if Dwayne the frikin’ Rock Johnson throws it at your head? Now it’s really a threat!
While the degree of the threat obviously varies drastically given the context of the situation, the threat is always there. So then, how do you deal with a threatening Entity? You basically have three options. You can fight, you can flee, or you can cooperate. Now then, fighting and fleeing are typically the goto options in these sorts of situations (remember your fight or flight instinct?) but cooperation is typically the best option, if it can be achieved.
Before I move on, I want to clarify one point. Given my language, you might think I’m talking specifically about biological Entities. That’s simply not the case. These arguments apply to biological systems because they’re Entities, not the other way around. These arguments apply just as well to non-biological entities.
To illustrate this, consider a rock. Within the context of our planet, rocks are pretty darn stable. They’re certainly not nearly as fancy (or interesting) as human beings, but they’re darn good at the whole Stability game. Why is that? Well, rocks typically have great internal Stability because they’re built out of super stable materials (small atoms), and they’re also pretty great at contending with threats? How, you rightly ask? Well, they aren’t super great at fleeing, but they are pretty darn great at fighting and cooperating.
“But Danny,” I hear someone keening in the back of the room, “Rocks don’t fight. Rocks don’t cooperate.” Well, Foolish Florian (I’ve been reading GOT lately), here’s what I have to say to that. How should we define fighting? I would argue that we could define fighting as behaving in a manner that eliminates a threat. Rocks happen to have such a high degree of internal stability, that most true threats to their stability simply break on impact. While it’s certainly passive, this particular characteristic of rocks makes them pretty great at fighting threats.
“Ok, so rocks fight,” mutters Florian. “Whatever. But they don’t cooperate.” Well, again, I would have to disagree with you, under a particularly open definition of the word “cooperation.” I would define cooperation as two or more Entities behaving in a manner that increases their collective stability. We therefore can certainly apply this definition to rocks. Consider the interaction between a rock and a human being. As long as the two entities have low relative momentum, then there is a ton of potential for cooperation. The human might take shelter next to the rock, thus protecting the human from other threats. In this case, the human might also attempt to fortify his/her shelter with other materials, which could easily increase the rock’s stability as well. Thus, cooperation.
Cooperation is actually way more common than one might think. It’s typically a key ingredient in creating higher-order Stable Entities. Just to satiate your appetite, here are some other examples of cooperation. The interaction between primitive eukaryotic cells and mitochondria is a great example. Any form of biological symbiosis is probably the most familiar example of non-human cooperation. The interaction between electrons and protons is a fantastic example of cooperation as well. And obviously, people working with other people is clearly a form of cooperation.
Now then, cooperation is clearly the optimal way of dealing with threats, but obviously cooperation isn’t always possible. Statistically speaking, out of all the threatening Entities an Entity may encounter, the Entity will likely only be able to cooperate with a small set of those Entities.
Good heavens, I need to find a way to use the word “Entity” less frequently. This is getting out of hand.
Ok. So I’ve established that it’s in an Entity’s best interest to cooperate with other Entities if possible (because it increases everyone’s stability), but cooperation is really hard to achieve. So then, how can an Entity minimize its need to fight or flee from threats (suboptimal outcomes), and maximize its propensity for cooperation (far and away the optimal outcome)?
Well, typically the best way for Entities to achieve this is to exist in a widely homogenous environment. To understand why this is, let’s take two different examples. Let’s first imagine that you live in the middle of nowhere, but your house is surrounded by gorillas for miles and miles. When you first move in, you might find this terrifying. I, for one, have an irrational fear of gorillas from a Nancy Drew book I read as child, so I’d consider that a suboptimal situation. If, however, you learn how to cooperate with gorillas, you’re basically home free. Gorillas have shown a remarkable capacity for communication, so let’s say over time you learn how to speak gorilla. Before long, you could basically organize your environment into a gorilla metropolis. Awesome!
Now, let’s consider a different situation. You live in the same house, but now you’re surrounded by miles and miles of all different sorts of animals. We’re talking Noah’s frikin Ark, baby. This really isn’t as great. Even if you learn how to speak gorilla, you aren’t in a position to deal with the threats posed by the lions, bears, shadow cats, white walkers, ismenian drakons, and what not.
Definitely not my best analogy, but you get the point. If you exist in a homogenized environment, then you don’t have to do as much work in order to achieve a state of productive cooperation with the environment.
If you’re looking for real world examples of this “homogenization,” then literally look around you. Almost every large-scale system we humans encounter on a daily basis exhibits a greater degree of continuity than almost anything else we can observe. The air we breathe, the ground on which we walk, the climate, our civilization, businesses, multicellular organisms, humans themselves are all examples of incredibly homogenous environments. It’s this homogeneity that has allowed for Stable Entities as complex as human beings to come about.
Ok, we’ve hopefully established that it’s almost always in an Entity’s best interest to exist within a homogenized environment because such environments typically allow for the greatest degree of productive cooperation between local Entities. With that said, can an Entity do even better? And perhaps the more leading question is: how do these homogenized environments come about?
The answer to the first question also answers the second. Yes, an Entity can do even better than simply existing in a well-homogenized environment. How? If it can act as the agent of homogenization. In other words, insofar as it’s possible (which it typically isn’t), it’s in an Entity’s best interest to homogenize its environment. And, as you might have guessed, this is typically how homogenized environments come about.
Now then, I’ve been pretty loose with my definition of “homogenization,” but let’s talk about how an Entity might go about homogenizing its environment. Well, one way is to simply eliminate all of the most potent threats to your existence. This has basically been the MO of almost every large civilization in human history. How do you guarantee the health and stability or your society? Simply conquer all the threatening societies around you.
Another example of this is biological immune system. An animal is a system of trillions of incredibly homogenous systems (cells) displaying an incomprehensible degree of cooperation, and the immune system’s job is to basically destroy anything that threatens the homogeneity of the organism.
Ok, so eliminating threats is a great way to promote homogeneity, but there’s an even more potent way to homogenize your environment. Replication. We humans call it reproduction. Sex, baby.
The essence of replication or reproduction is to reorganize the Entities in your environment into a copy of yourself. Now then, the reason why this form of homogenization is so potent is because this replication can easily be exponential in nature. If the copies you make of yourself can also make copies of themselves, then soon you’re going to get a bajillion copies of yourself.
Replication is also great because cooperation is typically easier to achieve between similar Entities than between dissimilar Entities.
The real powerhouses can both replicate themselves and eliminate threats in their environment. That’s not a hard one to understand. It’s easier for an army of 100,000 soldiers to take down a civilization than it is for a single soldier. And how do you get from one soldier to 100,000? Sex, baby (replication).
Thus, systems of Entities that can replicate themselves and eliminate threats in their environment exhibit what I call explosive continuity. As long as resources exist to sustain the further production of similar Entities, they basically grow exponentially fast, which is to say, really frikin fast.
Due to our privileged status of citizens of the Earth, we constantly encounter systems that exhibit explosive continuity. Explosive continuity is basically the MO of literally every biological system, ranging from cellular structures to global communities. It’s pretty darn important.
However, there’s one more system that I’d like to talk about which I believe might exhibit explosive continuity in the manner I’ve described. That system is our universe.
There’s basically nothing within perceivable reality that exhibits a greater degree of homogenization than outer space. That might be a weird thing to think about, because we typically think of outer space as being empty. However, in the past century, we’ve learned that our universe is expanding incredibly rapidly. That’s kinda the whole deal of the Big Bang.
Within the context of reality, explosive continuity is quite rare. However, when it does exist, it’s, well, explosive. And there’s nothing quite as explosive in perceivable reality than the Big Frikin Bang.
Which leads me to the following hypothesis. Cosmologists typically attribute the expansion of our universe to a mysterious force called dark energy. If you want to get jiggy with the math, dark energy kinda just appears as a constant in Einstein’s field equations, but that’s less important here. Math, after all, is just math.
So here’s my hypothesis about the nature of dark energy. Based on my observation of processes that behave like our expanding universe (systems exhibiting explosive continuity), I hypothesize that our extremely homogenized dimensions (both spatial and temporal) are actually just a sea of constituent Entities that are able to replicate themselves and eliminate threats to their existence. Based on my understanding of particle physics, I hypothesize that these Entities are even smaller than subatomic particles but may very well be the constituents of subatomic particles. I would guess that these Entities operate at roughly the Planck scale, simply because that’s where fancy physicists believe the continuity of space and time starts breaking down.
So yeah, that’s my hypothesis about the nature of dark energy. I don’t really care about the local structure of the constituents of Dimensions so much as their global behavior, because that’s what actually makes everything we know and love possible.
What makes this hypothesis so intriguing is that it indicates that there are greater forms of structure to reality than simply all that is perceivable in our universe. So yeah, for all you schmeagy physicists that don’t know what to do with CERN now that we’ve found the Higgs Boson, let me humbly suggest that you ain’t seen nothing yet. However, based on literally everything we know about reality, I’d guess it’ll be pretty darn hard to figure out how to observe the constituents of dimensions.
In closing, if you ever learned about European history, you may remember that at one point, some humans believed that the Earth was surrounded by a “Celestial Sphere.” The celestial sphere model was used to explain the fixed motion of stars and planets by asserting that they are embedded on the surface of this gigantic sphere. The religious folk of the time were a big fan of the Celestial Sphere model because they basically asserted that God and the angels lived on the other side of the sphere. So, if you want to find God, just go to the other side of the sphere.
Unfortunately for those religious folk, it turns out the celestial sphere model is a pretty bad model for explaining the motion of heavenly bodies, which means it’s a little harder to find God than they suspected.
If however, our universe is constructed from some constituent Entity which exhibits explosive continuity, then that means our universe is embedded within a greater form of reality than we’ve ever dreamed of perceiving. I’m not talking parallel universes, I’m basically asserting that reality might be much much larger than we initially thought.
So if you’re looking for God (or aliens, or general superintelligence), I’d start there.